Like all other metalheads and rockers out there, I awaited the new Black Sabbath with mixed feelings. Would they piss all over their legacy, compliment it, release something completely forgettable or a master piece? And with mixed feelings I can’t honestly say; they did it all!
I went about this album in the old fashion way, and pre-ordered the vinyl at my local shop. The album looks good. The artwork works very well, and is stripped down and reminiscent of some of their classic albums. With the mind bugling Vertigo-label, the look of the record is complete. I could have wished for a little sticker with the words “digital download included”, but no matter.
The album starts off brilliantly with End of the Beginning. A heavy, doomy song that couldn’t have been written by any other group of people. Tony Iommy shows why he’s considered to be the godfather of heavy riffs. Geezers bass is rumbling and tumbling in his signature way. Ozzys voice now, leaves something to be desired, but lets all just be happy that he stills breathes and is able to sing. Guest drummer Brad Wilk has most certainly listened to a lot of all Sabbath records, and emulates Bill Wards drumming to perfection.
God Is Dead was released as single, and is a good pick as a single. It pics up the feel of the opener and keeps the doom close to heart. I think this might be my favorite track. Ozzys emotional vocals really gives you that certain vibe and the heavy, heavy rhythm of the song is just amazing.
But, the brilliant opening couldn’t last. Loner is barely over the OK-mark. Besides the great solo a couple of minutes into the song, it sounds … well, it’s hard to describe, but this is a big let down from side-A. Zeitgeist is a weaker and less interesting brother of Planet Caravan, and brings nothing exciting to the b-side. It also brings the band dangerously close to pissing on their own legacy, but thankfully the song is not dragged out and the boredom comes to an end.
Side-C starts off with Age of Reason. A big, solid riff is the backbone of this song, but that’s it. Iommys guitar work is, as always, impeccable, but somehow doesn’t really come together in a proper way on Age of Reason. Live Forever is a nice little rocker, but I suspect this song was written with Dio in mind for the vocals, as this song reminds me of the Black Sabbath of the early eighties. The song doesn’t quite make it, it lacks something I can’t quite put my finger on.
The final side av the double vinyl release sees a return to the seven-plus-minute anthems (like the A-side), and a marked return to greatness. Both Damaged Soul and Dear Father are great classic Black Sabbath, with all the hallmarks that requires. They are both doomy, heavy and creative, with some impressive instrumental parts, featuring some great bass lines and brilliant guitar solos.
Overall 13 is everything one could have hoped for, more or less. The band really shines when they allow themselves room to jam and ride the blues riffs out to full length. That’s one reason why the longer songs work better than the shorter ones. 13 starts of great and finishes great, with a more forgettable and less interesting middle section. If the album had only consisted of these four songs it would have been one the finest records since the seventies for all parties involved, including all of Ozzys solo records, Heaven & Hell and everything else, but with the four songs in the middle the album, as a whole, rates somewhat lower.